NEA Political Animals hear from Broadway, Brock

by George Jared ([email protected]) 910 views 

Arkansas Republicans are projected to have a strong election night and two of the state’s top political experts think the only question could be the margins.

A decision on the state’s top amendment issue, the legalization of recreational marijuana, could stretch late into the night, Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief and longtime pollster Roby Brock and former Arkansas Speaker of the House and political pundit Shane Broadway said.

The two spoke Friday (Oct. 21) at the NEA Political Animals meeting in Jonesboro.

Polling from TB&P-Hendrix College indicates that in the top three statewide races for governor, senator and attorney general the Republican in each race has a double-digit lead. U.S. Sen. John Boozman leads his closest opponent, Democrat Natalie James, 52%-32%, while Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin has a 57%-31% lead on his opponent, Democrat Jesse Gibson.

GOP gubernatorial nominee Sarah Huckabee Sanders has a 10-point lead over her challenger, Democrat Dr. Chris Jones, with a 51%-41% margin.

“I obviously think the Republicans will win. We will see what the margins are,” Broadway said.

Boozman and Griffin have grown their leads in the last month, while Sanders’ margin has remained stagnant. Brock said one difference is that Griffin and Boozman have pivoted to a general election message that is more appealing to independents and some Democrats, while Sanders continues with national-type messaging that speaks more to her GOP base.

She also remains tied to her former boss, former President Donald Trump, who is not as unpopular as President Joe Biden, but has fallen in standing with Arkansas voters. No Republican general election ads for major candidates feature Trump right now, although they were prevalent in the primary.

“Trump is unappealing with Arkansas voters right now – not as much as Biden – but still a liability with independent voters,” Brock said.

Another factor in the race is that Jones has run a strong campaign, Broadway said.

Amendment 4 would allow for recreational use of marijuana in the state. The latest polling shows 50.5% approve of the amendment, while 43% oppose. The numbers have significantly tightened in this latest poll.

Brock noted that when medical marijuana first appeared on the ballot in 2012 it over performed at the ballot box when compared to the polling numbers. Known as a “Bradley effect,” it means that a percentage of people tell pollsters something different than how they will truly vote. A similar effect has happened in several counties that have voted to allow alcohol sales in recent years.

One other tossup on election night with local implications will be the ballot initiative to cut funding for the Craighead County Library from two mills to one mill. A conservative effort was launched to cut funding after an LGBTQ display was allowed at the library along with books that have LGBTQ themes. Several wanted those things banned.

On the national level, Broadway said he thinks the Republicans will win 15-20 House seats and take back the U.S. House of Representatives. It won’t be a wave election, but House Republicans will have a solid night, he said.

On the Senate side, it will likely come down to three states – Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. If the Democrats sweep those states they will likely keep control of the U.S., but if not, the Republicans may take the chamber with a slim majority, Brock said.